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Desperate and Chippless

19 Aug

Political rants are like listening to someone describe a dream.  Indulgent and tedious. So beware, I have a dream.

I love elections.

There are few days of ritual that make me feel more connected to my Australian identity than the one of rocking up to  a local school hall on a Saturday morning and penciling a political destiny. It’s all so polite and chipper. Sure, there are the How-to-Vote  hounds who bark and wave their little red books and generally behave like footy thugs, but, everything else is commonly courteous. There’s a bit of banter and chat along the queue, but ultimately, there is an intrinsic understanding that talk of politics is out of the question.

There are commentators who profess this is emblematic of our political apathy. Of our lack of engagement  with socio-political issues. Sometimes these folk like to trot out the “people die for the right to vote” to press their point. I know this is true of the world, but having never experienced political oppression personally, to bark its verse, well,  it just seems a bit on the vain side.

What election days demonstrate so very well is that voting is a private thing. You step into your booth, you make a final weigh of what is important to you, and you accord judgment.  Like prayer, it is a private contract between you and something bigger, whatever you deem that bigger thing to be.

But this year, there is little sacred about the ritual. There is no private moment to be relished. For, after six weeks of  Punch and Judy,(only less eloquent) there is no sense of that something bigger to make contract with. Gillard and Abbott have literally worn us into the state of apathy we as Australians are so often accused of.

They played some of Obama’s acceptance speech on 774 this morning. Now, what the realities of his leadership are I do not know, but to hear the fluidity of ideas was to be excited by that most isolated of emotions, hope. Soon after, the ABC cut to sound bytes from our leaders. I thought I was eavesdropping on a neighbour’s dispute over who pays for the new fence.

Perhaps sentimentality clouds me. But I can recall in 1976 being transfixed as one Don Chipp literally spat with passion as he gave his election pitch to camera. He thumped the desk as he leant like a drunk uncle and implored us to keep the bastards honest. He was also a man who admitted to coming into politics with no real ideals and having some very strong ones forged by the ambivalent brutality of the game.

His party is a long spent force. The Greens may yet rise in their place; but as I watch and hear our current mob take yet another limp cheap shot, I wonder just where their beliefs have been forged; outside of a carefully monitored focus groups and petty ambition that is? Success through consensus has always been a part of politics, but rarely has it had stereo of such  monotonal linguists as its figureheads.

There’s a saying we get the leaders we deserve.

I love elections. I really do.

But I have a dream.


Three chords and the zombie apocalypse.

8 May

So, when the satellite from Mars crashes, or the petri dish falls, or God just says, right, fuck the lot of you, and the undead come shuffling back to life and the rest of us lock ourselves away with lots of guns and scream things like, behind you and in the head man, you gotta pop ’em in the head!…

who do you want by your side?

Sure, there are FB quizzes to decide how you’d tool up in the face of the shuffling hordes (and let’s get this straight. ZA will be a slow dance. None of this Usain Bolt nonsense. They’re dead; motor function is exponentially reduced and well, the sense of being overwhelmed by sheer lumbering, unthinking numbers is just plain more frightening. Plenty of stuff in the now-times is quick. We can be scared of that everyday. When the world ends, let’s have a bit of fun eh?)

So, FB. Now, whilst I was well pleased with my five piece tool kit of a machete, random hot smart chick, apache gun-ship, shot-gun and box of donuts, the real measure of survival would be the company we keep. Sure, there’s a giggle to be had knocking nails into doors and hunkering down to wait out the night…but once you’re hunkered down, what then? Twister? Battleships? Charades godamnit?!

So picture it. You’re alone in  a basement someplace. Up above, you hear the thuds of the hungry dead moving about. Then comes a sound. A confident sound. Boot heels striding in straight lines. No gun shots. No screams. The sounds descend the stairs. The door opens. You’re saved. It’s..

Johnny Cash.

That’s right. The man in black is No 1. in the Zombie Apocalypse Draft. Why he’d stride into your basement, extend a gnarled hand, say something like, “It’s time to move on son,” and then Johnny and you would stroll through the shufflers like they were presidential security, not the hungry dead. Sure, maybe one faithless reanimate would claw, glaze over and lean in for a bite, but the m.i.b would  pull the greengrey hand gently aside, push away with a cane to sternum manoeuvre  and slide a bible in to the thing’s wavering mits. If it still kept coming, I suppose there could be some kapowyinthehead action here, in fact let’s just have J.Cs cane double as a shot-gun, but you can’t say he didn’t give the thing a chance. “Go in peace son. Go in peace.”

See, once the giddy chapter of madly tooling up is done, you’re gonna need not just company, but context. This is the end of the world after all. J.C brings  both in spades. Come the night, he’d orate you parables of sad cowboys and yearnful convicts and somehow, the fact that the entire world was now full of undead things that wanted to eat you, would make sense. Your narrative would be shifted, but unbroken. You’d be able to look up at that night sky and say, yep, one of them’s for me.

And come the days, when you walk the highways, cleaning the countryside, well, you just know J.C is going to have mad cross-bow skills.

Warrior. Poet. A fistful of hope. Someone to share a box of donuts with while you wait for that hotsmartchick to turn up.

Mancrush: Aristotle once said..

4 May

Of man crushes.

None can match the cosmos sized, identity forming crush I gathered on Chris-in-the-Morning from ‘Northern Exposure’ back-in-the-day. This show is still my favourite piece of television. At its best (which is where one judges the best), it reached a plateau of sentiment and insight rarely attempted, let-a-lone attained. Sure, it was Whitman Mach10, but to elicit a quiet smile and sigh is a rare thing. Snarkers take note.

And at the centre, for me, was Chris Stevens; the philosphy expounding, ex-con DJ for K-Bear. He’d spin his tunes and furrow his come hither brow and his bookend monologues over closing Cicilien montages were just about my favourite thing in the ‘now what have we learnt’ universe. Mancrush reached its zenith in the episode ‘Northern Lights’ (s4, ep18.), where, driven by some restless need (Ding!), he constructs a vast sculpture of lamps in the Alaskan night,and then rises before it, HenryV style, and delivers a speech upon the nature of light and longing that just about broke my tiny little heart.  It commences with a Goethe quote. It concludes with, “Light……….is light.”  I ask you!

So,  I still buy lamps. I jam lyricism into any situation and refuse to learn from the awkward silences. I use the words incandescent or luminous in every story I write. I haven’t done hard time in prison or wandered the wide plains of Alaska and beyond, but I did once shop-lift at Venture and walk home to Keysborough from Nunawading. I don’t attract conga lines of  women with a seasonal pheromone release, and I use google, not dog-eared anthologies, for most of my quotes.

I fall short, but the shape of him comforts still.

Oh Chris. Oh sublime, fictional Chris. Such a model you have presented to aspire to.